LT. GEN. JS BA­JWA UN-MADE IN IN­DIA

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THE Es­ti­mates Com­mit­tee un­der Murli Manohar Joshi re­cently pre­sented the 29th Re­port on “De­fence Forces Pre­pared­ness: Pro­duc­tion and Pro­cure­ment” to the 16th Lok Sabha. It has re­viewed the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO), Or­di­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) and all the De­fence Pub­lic Sec­tor Un­der­tak­ings (DPSUs), which func­tion un­der the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD). The Com­mit­tee as­sessed their func­tional ef­fi­cien­cies, their out­put ca­pac­i­ties along with the mea­sures adopted for cre­at­ing an ecosys­tem to en­cour­age mi­cro, small and medium en­ter­prises (MSME’s). Thereby un­der­stand their abil­ity to sup­port the de­fence forces in their re­spec­tive mod­erni­sa­tion pro­cesses. The re­port also stud­ied the level of

in­di­geni­sa­tion achieved by these units and their con­tri­bu­tion to the Make in In­dia ini­tia­tive of the Prime Min­is­ter. It has aptly high­lighted the sys­temic short­falls and de­fi­cien­cies. There­fore, it would be point­less to re­it­er­ate and list out these. So, rather than dwell only on these pro­saic is­sues, it will be worth­while to look at the larger, more cardinal fac­tors, of mod­erni­sa­tion and pre­pared­ness of the forces to fight fu­ture wars. There are cer­tain fun­da­men­tal re­al­i­ties with re­gard to a na­tion and its armed forces. First, it is the gov­ern­ment that has to de­cide whether it needs armed forces. Sec­ond, the gov­ern­ment has to iden­tify the threats, both ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal, that it en­vis­ages and de­cides on the op­ti­mum size of the force re­quired to se­cure the na­tion from both these threats. Third, the gov­ern­ment must also state its ba­sic phi­los­o­phy, whether the armed forces will be de­fence or of­fence ori­ented. Fourth, whether there will be any con­tin­gency when there would be a re­quire­ment to project an ex­pe­di­tionary force be­yond the coun­try’s bor­ders. Fifth, de­fine the role of the air force in sup­port of land op­er­a­tions and its strate­gic tasks. Sim­i­larly, the navy’s role in event of a bor­der war on the na­tion’s land fron­tiers. In a re­verse op­tion, the role of land forces de­ployed on the na­tion’s land fron­tiers in event of of­fen­sive op­er­a­tions be­ing di­rected by an ad­ver­sary to cap­ture any of the coun­tries is­land ter­ri­to­ries. Sixth, the strate­gic de­ter­rence ca­pa­bil­ity built so as to se­cure a win­dow for con­duct of con­ven­tional mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against an ad­ver­sary, which is known to have a hi­er­ar­chy of nu­clear weapons. These are just some of the pa­ram­e­ters from a score of other sim­i­lar pa­ram­e­ters not men­tioned here. In In­dia these above men­tioned is­sues are in the do­main of the civil­ian gov­ern­ment. In the west­ern coun­tries, and in China, their gov­ern­ments have de­vel­oped se­cu­rity strate­gies and pre­pared se­cu­rity doc­trines to sup­port and pro­tect their na­tional in­ter­ests. This, in turn, dic­tates the force lev­els that they are pre­pared to main­tain at all times to pro­tect their na­tional in­ter­ests. Par­al­lel to this is the con­tin­u­ous and rapid ad­vance­ment of mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy. Newer tech­nol­ogy man­dates newer meth­ods of fight­ing along with com­men­su­rate need for re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of units and for­ma­tions. This, in turn, gen­er­ates a Revo­lu­tion in Mil­i­tary Af­fairs (RMA).

STRATEGY it­self is deep, un­de­fined, and al­ways fu­tur­is­tic. For­mu­lat­ing a se­cu­rity strategy is an ex­er­cise in the ab­stract. It ba­si­cally out­lines the se­cu­rity con­cerns of a coun­try and in­cludes the plans to deal with them. It also needs to be re­vised pe­ri­od­i­cally. The gov­ern­ments in power in In­dia have not for­mally put forth a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Strategy, which should clearly iden­tify the se­cu­rity con­cerns and how the gov­ern­ment plans to deal with them. As a re­sult the armed forces will take re­course to sim­plis­tic “bean count”. This will tan­ta­mount to look­ing at the size of the armed forces—num­ber of per­son­nel, guns, tanks, air­craft and ships of all likely ad­ver­saries. As a con­se­quence the forces will be or­gan­ised and equipped to suit­ably out­match all such “bean count” threats. It must be clearly un­der­stood that wars are fought be­tween gov­ern­ments to se­cure or pro­tect their vi­tal and/or na­tional in­ter­ests as vi­su­alised by them. The mil­i­tary is the hard el­e­ment of the

power avail­able with the gov­ern­ment. Once any gov­ern­ment de­cides to re­sort to use of mil­i­tary force, it must state the aim of the war. Then the mil­i­tary force will fight to se­cure the ob­jec­tive as given. The mil­i­tary force that stands de­feated would put its gov­ern­ment in a weaker bar­gain­ing po­si­tion. In­vari­ably, the gov­ern­ment of a de­feated mil­i­tary force will have to com­pro­mise its na­tional in­ter­est and suc­cumb to the dic­tates of the vic­to­ri­ous ad­ver­sary. There­fore, when left to it­self, the armed forces will build ca­pac­i­ties and ca­pa­bil­i­ties to be able to fight a war in the ‘worst case sce­nario’ that can be­fall the na­tion— two-front war with en­emy/ en­e­mies us­ing tac­ti­cal nu­clear weapons or atomic de­mo­li­tions and war of hy­brid na­ture. To be able to be pre­pared to take on such a daunt­ing task does re­quire a very large stand­ing armed force. De­spite the most ad­vance tech­nolo­gies wars when fought will in­volve mea­sur­ing vic­tory by the in­fantry sol­diers’ boots on the ground.

Alarge stand­ing armed force needs to be suit­ably equipped with weapons that match those held with the ad­ver­saries, if not be of a more mod­ern tech­no­log­i­cal gen­er­a­tion. Most mil­i­taries world over can­not af­ford to un­der­take a full re­place­ment of equip­ment for the whole force at the same time as and when some more mod­ern weapon or weapon sys­tems are de­vel­oped and avail­able. Con­se­quently, the op­tion is to have a the forces equipped with a de­sir­able mix of ap­prox­i­mately 35 per­cent of equip­ment of the lat­est tech­nol­ogy, 35-40 per­cent of equip­ment, which has been down­graded and is clas­si­fied as ob­so­les­cence and 25-30 per­cent of weapons and equip­ment held, which is in the ob­so­lete cat­e­gory. These, in due course, will be phased out as and when more weapons and equip- ment of newer tech­nol­ogy are in­ducted. It re­quires no eco­nomic or fi­nan­cial wiz­ardry to com­pre­hend that im­port­ing weapons, weapon sys­tem and equip­ment to equip a large stand­ing armed force is a fi­nan­cially per­ilous un­der­tak­ing for any na­tion, leave alone do­ing that for a de­vel­op­ing coun­try with the fourth largest armed force in the world. For a na­tion, which is home to seven crore peo­ple liv­ing in ex­treme poverty, in­cur­ring huge ex­pen­di­ture on de­fence, will be com­mit­ting po­lit­i­cal hara-kiri. Be­sides, as a de­vel­op­ing coun­try, the gov­ern­ment is fac­ing se­ri­ous chal­lenges of req­ui­si­tion­ing ad­e­quate funds for ba­sic de­vel­op­ment re­quire­ments like pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial de­vel­op­ment projects, planned de­vel­op­ment in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor and in con­struc­tion of a mod­ern net­work of ports, roads, rail­way and IWT in­fra­struc­ture. These con­straints will com­pel any re­spon­si­ble gov­ern­ment to ex­er­cise ex­treme par­si­mony in ex­pend­ing huge funds on de­fence. Ergo, to equip and main­tain in readi­ness such a large force, in­dige­nous arms man­u­fac­tur­ing is the only solution. Ja­pan, af­ter World War II, and China af­ter the Cul­tural Revo­lu­tion, set about to catch up with the world tech­no­log­i­cally. No method adopted was con­sid­ered foul or un­fair. Re­verse en­gi­neer­ing, steal­ing blue­prints, hon­ey­trap­ping and black­mail and later theft of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty were all con­sid­ered scrupu­lous and ac­cept­able. To­day, Pe­shawar in Pak­istan has a ver­i­ta­ble cot­tage in­dus­try of arms man­u­fac­tur­ing. Ev­ery sec­ond house is man­u­fac­tur­ing small arms with their in-house bel­low fired smelter, foundry, lathe ma­chines and the ubiq­ui­tous ham­mer and tongs. They are pro­duc­ing hand­made copies of ev­ery pis­tol, as­sault ri­fle, ma­chine gun and rocket launcher avail­able in the world arms mar­ket to­day. In­dia, on the other hand, did not in­dulge in these ne­far­i­ous games so openly due to pe­ri­odic bouts of ‘se­vere moral pangs’. As a re­sult, In­dia has been un­able to pro­duce a de­pend­able weapon in the last seven decades. The sys­temic mal­ady is ev­i­dent in the three cases cited in the sub­se­quent para­graphs. First one per­tains to the de­vel­op­ment of the Hin­dus­tan Fighter-24 (HF24) by HAL. The then Prime Min­is­ter wanted In­dia to be self-suf­fi­cient in

man­u­fac­tur­ing mil­i­tary hard­ware. Con­se­quently, in 1956-57, a team of air­craft de­sign­ers un­der a Ger­man, Kurt Tank, were tasked to pro­duce a suit­able fighter for the Air Force. The Air Staff Qual­i­ta­tive Re­quire­ment listed am­bi­tious and un­re­al­is­tic ca­pa­bil­i­ties for the fledg­ing HAL. Notwith­stand­ing, the team went about their task and the first pro­to­type flew on 17 June 1961. The HF-24, there­after was in­ducted into the Air Force in 1967, and served in three squadrons up to 1990’s. A pre­ma­ture death of an in­dige­nous ma­chine was brought about due to im­ma­ture short­sighted de­ci­sions of the Air Force hi­er­ar­chy. Had up­grades of HF-24 been al­lowed to be man­u­fac­tured, the his­tory of In­dian avi­a­tion in­dus­try would have been dif­fer­ent. Also, In­dia would have worked harder to de­velop its own jet en­gines to power the later ver­sions of HF-24—in­ad­e­quately pow­er­ful en­gine was its ma­jor short­com­ing. Con­se­quently, the whole story of de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion of Te­jas would have been very dif­fer­ent. Sec­ond case per­tains to the INSAS ( IN­dian Small Arms Sys­tem) fam­ily of small arms. It was in the early 1980’s that a de­ci­sion was taken to de­velop a 5.56mm ri­fle. The INSAS in­cluded the as­sault ri­fle, car­bine, Squad Au­to­matic Weapon (SAW) also called Light Ma­chine Gun (LMG). INSAS was fi­nally adopted in 1990. In 1997, the ri­fle and LMG went into mass pro­duc­tion. The car­bine re­mained elu­sive and was never man­u­fac­tured. The INSAS ri­fle and LMG had a num­ber of faults, which had to be con­stantly at­tended to. In 2014, the Cen­tral Re­serve Po­lice Force (CRPF) opted out of hav­ing the INSAS ri­fle as its stan­dard weapon. In 2015 these were re­placed with AK-47 by the Home Min­istry. In 2017, CRPF ac­cepted the AK-47-based ri­fle man­u­fac­tured by the Or­di­nance Fac­tory Tiruchi­rap­palli – called the Trichy As­sault Ri­fle. All these years, the R&D depart­ment of the Or­di­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) did not pur­sue the de­vel­op­ment of a re­place­ment of the INSAS. This ca­sual and lax at­ti­tude has com­pelled the Army to seek im­port of mod­ern as­sault ri­fles at heavy cost. Third case per­tains to the man­u­fac­ture of the 155 mm “Dhanush” to meet the de­mand of the ar­tillery to re­place the age­ing 155mm Bo­fors medium gun. In the deal signed with Bo­fors of Swe­den in 1986, In­dia was to re­ceive the de­tailed draw­ings of the orig­i­nal Bo­fors gun. As is ev­i­dent now, these draw­ings had been re­ceived then, but, mys­te­ri­ously, lay buried some­where gath­er­ing dust in some dingy cup­board of OFB till these were dugout and dusted in 2015. Soon there­after, work be­gan on the man­u­fac­tur­ing of this weapon from the draw­ings. The in­dige­nous 155mm gun was fielded for fir­ing tri­als in 2016 and has since more than sur­passed the pa­ram­e­ters of the orig­i­nal Bo­fors gun.

HOW­EVER, the mys­tery of why, for 25 years, these draw­ings were not used to man­u­fac­ture a gun de­spite the orig­i­nal lot of Bo­fors be­com­ing un­ser­vice­able and be­ing phased out, will need to be un­earthed and thor­oughly probed and brought out in the pub­lic do­main. This is a sor­did case of strate­gic sab­o­tage. But, strangely, there is deaf­en­ing si­lence in this re­gard and no one is be­ing held ac­count­able. In light of the fore­go­ing, it is a moot point whether the de­ci­sion of the In­dian Army to re­duce its size by 1,50,000 per­son­nel is pru­dent. It is a sep­a­rate sub­ject of dis­cus­sion by it­self. Prun­ing man­power and or­gan­i­sa­tions are easy op­tions that pro­vide some short­term re­lief. More of­ten than not, the gov­ern­ment will al­ways en­cour­age such an op­tion as it will bail the gov­ern­ment out from adopt­ing more com­pre­hen­sive long-term strate­gic mea­sures. Re-rais­ing forces will be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and will al­ways be re­sisted. The present army’s hi­er­ar­chy may prune the force lev­els but will only be pre­sent­ing a fait ac­com­pli to the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Ju­nior of­fi­cers must be in­cluded in all dis­cus­sions on the sub­ject since then are the ones who will in­herit the con­se­quences of de­ci­sions on prun­ing of the forces.

In the west­ern coun­tries, and in China, their gov­ern­ments have de­vel­oped se­cu­rity strate­gies and pre­pared se­cu­rity doc­trines to sup­port and pro­tect their na­tional in­ter­ests. This, in turn, dic­tates the force lev­els that they are pre­pared to main­tain at all times

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